How fortuitous that the last three words all start with Alef; they are: “Ani ohev otchah! I love you!” (Picture book. 2-6)

ALEF IS FOR ABBA

Writing an ABC book has its challenges, as the end of the book may involve a xylophone, yogurt and a zebra; Kafka’s story is refreshingly unarbitrary.

Fortunately, the author had to work with only one letter of the alphabet, the Hebrew letter Alef. The book presents two back-to-back stories about a father and a mother, Abba and Ima in Hebrew, both of which begin with Alef, as do all the Hebrew words that follow. (Each word appears three times: in Hebrew characters, Romanized Hebrew and English.) Each story follows the family from morning till night. The one focusing on Ima begins with light (or) shining through the window and ends with a big meal (aruchah) after dark. Even the odder word choices are appropriate and can be strangely moving. Nose (af) shows up when the mother rubs noses with her son at bedtime. And happiness (osher) is represented by toys strewn all over the floor and the furniture. After children read about Abba (or Ima), they then flip the book over for the other story. The word choices mostly avoid stereotypes, but it’s too bad that only Abba gets to leave the house; Ima is busy cooking. Basaluzzo’s brightly colored illustrations are charming without being sentimental.

How fortuitous that the last three words all start with Alef; they are: “Ani ohev otchah! I love you!” (Picture book. 2-6)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4677-2156-1

Page Count: 24

Publisher: Kar-Ben

Review Posted Online: July 15, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2014

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This TV rerun in board-book form has nothing new to offer.

PEPPA'S GIANT PUMPKIN

From the Peppa Pig series

Peppa hopes to join her classmates in a Halloween pumpkin competition in this adaptation of a story from the popular British television program Peppa Pig.

With the help of Granny and Grandpa Pig, Peppa turns her giant pumpkin, which is the size of a compact car, into a jack-o’-lantern. The trio is flummoxed when it comes time to transport the pumpkin to the competition, so they call on Miss Rabbit and her helicopter to airlift the pumpkin to the festivities as Peppa and her grandparents ride inside. Peppa arrives just in time for the contest and wins the prize for best flying pumpkin. The scenes look as if they are pulled directly from the television show, right down to the rectangular framing of some of the scenes. While the story is literally nothing new, the text is serviceable, describing the action in two to three sentences per page. The pumpkin-shaped book and orange foil cover will likely attract youngsters, whether they are Peppa fans or not.

This TV rerun in board-book form has nothing new to offer. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 30, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-338-33922-2

Page Count: 10

Publisher: Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

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While the ghoulies here are more cute than scary, “jump,” “quiver,” and “run” will probably get across the idea to even the...

HALLOWEEN ABC

An abecedary of spooky or autumnal delights for the littlest readers.

Each letter of the alphabet is highlighted on a single page, the upper- and lowercase letters appearing in the upper left-hand corner, while the object is named at the bottom or in the upper right. Ho keeps her illustrations simple and places them against plain, brightly colored backgrounds, keeping them accessible to those still learning about Halloween’s many icons. The almost-fluorescent orange cover is sure to attract attention, and the palette of black, purple, orange, yellow, and radioactive green enhances the Halloween mood. But while many of the chosen items will be expected—bats, ghost, haunted house, owl, skeleton, vampire, witch, zombie—others are rather odd choices. J is for “jump,” not jack-o’-lantern (“pumpkin” is illustrated with a jack-o’-lantern); K is for a mostly black “kitten” standing in a coffin; and N is for “nightmare,” which is virtually impossible to express visually for this age group without provoking said nightmare. Here, a lavender-skinned child (zombie?) in pajamas and nightcap has arms raised and mouth open wide in surprise—perhaps in response to the mummy across the gutter? The tough letters use “quiver,” spider-decorated “underpants” on a monster, and “extra treats,” the x underlined.

While the ghoulies here are more cute than scary, “jump,” “quiver,” and “run” will probably get across the idea to even the youngest listeners that Halloween can be scary. (Board book. 2-4)

Pub Date: July 18, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-7636-9527-9

Page Count: 28

Publisher: Nosy Crow/Candlewick

Review Posted Online: Aug. 7, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2018

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